Cubs Sign Kawasaki to Minor League Deal
Jon Paul Morosi at Fox Sports reports that the Cubs have signed veteran utility infielder Munenori Kawasaki to a 2016 minor league contract, and Paul Sullivan at the Chicago Tribune further reports that Kawasaki will receive an NRI to Spring Training with the big club.
Kawasaki essentially takes the place of Jonathan Herrera (who elected free-agency after being outrighted to the minors in October), although Kawasaki will have to beat-out Tommy LaStella and/or Javy Baez (as well as fellow NRI utility INF Kristopher Negron and Logan Watkins) for a spot on the Cubs 25-man Opening Day roster.
I suspect Kawasaki will likely end up at AAA Iowa (at least until June 1st - see last paragraph below), providing insurance in case something happens to either Addison Russell or Baez.
Playing nine-plus seasons for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in the NPB Pacific League, the left-handed hitting Kawasaki was an eight-time NPB All-Star, a two-time Gold Glove award winner, and he led the league in stolen bases once. He was a member of Team Japan in both the 2005 and 2009 World Baseball Classic.
Kawasaki signed a contract with the Seattle Mariners after the 2011 season, and he has bounced back & forth between AAA and MLB over the past four seasons (one with the Mariners, and then three with the Toronto Blue Jays).
The speedy but light-hitting 34-year old has hit 234/314/284 in 262 MLB games (712 PA) 2012-2015, providing glove-first plus-defense at SS-2B-3B.
Because of previous service time accrued in Japan (NPB) prior to signing his first contract with an MLB organization, Kawasaki is considered an Article XX-B player, and in fact he has been declared an Article XX-B MLB free-agent three times: post-2013, post-2014, and post-2015. (Kawasaki wasn't declared an Article XX-B MLB FA post-2012 because the Mariners released him in October, prior to the conclusion of the World Series).
An Article XX-B MLB free-agent who signs a minor league contract at least ten days prior to MLB Opening Day and then is either not released by 12 PM (Eastern) on the 5th day prior to MLB Opening Day or added to an MLB Active List (25-man roster) or MLB Disabled List by 3 PM (Eastern) on MLB Opening Day automatically receives a $100,000 retention bonus, and the player can unilaterally opt-out of the minor league contract on June 1st if he has not been added to an MLB Active List (25-man roster) or an MLB Disabled List by that date.
Dolorous Jon Lester 4 min 50 sec ago (view)
Managerial change making a difference I think. Hopefully the changes to the amateur scouting department also bears fruit
Cubster 1 hour 53 min ago (view)
David Ross might be worthy of a little credit, especially sorting out the bullpen issues.
crunch 1 hour 58 min ago (view)
this team is amazing. i want more than 60 games of this. darvish since mid-season last year has been great stuff.
also, wick got to close. kimbrel hasn't worked in quite a while.
Eric S 2 hours 39 min ago (view)
39 pitch inning by Burnes.
crunch 3 hours 14 min ago (view)
...well, it is true that's the plan...but...umm..."allegedly"
QuietMan 3 hours 24 min ago (view)
Cubs to play double headers Monday and Wednesday against the Cardinals.
Eric S 4 hours 16 min ago (view)
Ha! Hope Nico goes on a heater!
Cubster 4 hours 21 min ago (view)
"Not thrilled"...as if on cue, Nico leads off with a double and a later Schwarbsbomb.
Eric S 6 hours 15 min ago (view)
Updated Bullpen tiers:
Tier 1 (Closer/Firemen)
Wick and Jeffress (interchangeable)
Tier 2 (Preferred Setup roles)
Tepera, Sadler, Rea (!)
Tier 3 (Face lefties exclusively if possible)
Ryan (has to get that fastball out of mid-80s or head to South Bend)
Tier 4 (Long man innings eater)
Tier 10 (reserved for use when either up or down by 10+ runs)
I think that covers it?
Jackstraw 7 hours 44 min ago (view)
Wait. The bullpen can get worse? That's unpossible.
Eric S 8 hours 3 min ago (view)
Here we go again: Nico, Rizzo, Javy, Willson, Schwarber (LF), Happ, Bote, Souza, Caratini
Not thrilled with Nico leading off when the greatest leadoff hitter in baseball history was available but whatever
crunch 8 hours 20 min ago (view)
bryant was supposedly gonna be in the lineup but he has left ring finger and wrist hurties.
Charlie 8 hours 35 min ago (view)
I really think they could play .500 from here and would take the division.
But leave room for at least a week long slump due to bullpen implosion.
Cubster 8 hours 39 min ago (view)
Don't get too giddy but...
One Quarter of the schedule is complete.
Pace is for a 48-12 record which when extrapolated to 162 games is about 130 win season.
Is it all downhill from here?
Cardinals at White Sox game tomorrow is possibly canceled per Sun-Times reporting that Bob Nightengale of USA Today and Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported the postponement.
Eric S 9 hours 5 min ago (view)
Brewers Game 1: KB (LF), Rizzo, Javy, Willson (DH), Happ, Bote (3B), Souza (RF), Nico, Caratini, Darvish
Eric S 1 day 1 hour ago (view)
Reds just lost in tough fashion to the Royals. Down 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, one out and rap into a 5-4-3 dp to end it.